Airbags save thousands of lives every year, and are essential safety devices for drivers and passengers. Unfortunately, defective airbags can have the opposite effect and actually create serious safety hazards. Millions of vehicles have now been recalled by Honda, Toyota, and other major auto-makers because airbags exploded, failed to deploy, opened without warning, or had other problems that can cause severe injury or even death.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. The vehicles are equipped with defective airbags that federal officials say can explode, sending metal shrapnel flying into the vehicle. Four deaths have been linked to the exploding airbags in Florida, Oklahoma and Virginia. The latest: an Orlando woman killed weeks ago driving a Honda Accord.
This latest recall started last year and was expanded earlier this year. The issue gained increasing attention earlier this month as Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped efforts to get car owners to replace their airbags. Until now the nearly 8 million vehicles under recall have been concentrated in warmer states with humid climates, but there is increasing pressure to expand efforts nationwide.
Seven million of the recalled vehicles are made by Honda, but eight other manufacturers have also issued recalls, including a quarter million Toyotas. Toyota has gone as far as warning people that no one should sit in the passenger’s seat of recalled vehicles until the airbags are fixed.
Honda first began recalling a few thousand as early as 2009. This year, recalls related to the air bags have grown dramatically and now exceed 14 million overall, six million of them by Honda, while Toyota, BMW, and Nissan have also recalled large numbers of cars.
Public prosecutors in the United States are targeting Japanese automotive parts supplier Takata Corp, which is suspected to have misled US regulators regarding its airbags. The company’s defective safety components have been a centre of series of massive worldwide recalls over the past few years, and Takata has been accused of hiding the true number of cars affected.
Consumers that are uncertain whether their vehicle is impacted by the Takata airbag recalls, or any other recall, can contact their manufacturer’s website to search, by their vehicle identification number (VIN) to confirm whether their individual vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. Owners that have been contacted by their manufacturer should contact their dealer’s service department and make arrangements for the repair. In addition, consumers can sign up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.
Consumer Advisory: Vehicle Owners with Defective Airbags Urged to Take Immediate Action (NHTSA)